Caribbean Playlist (May/June 2013)

Recent albums and singles to get you in your groove

Don Carlo$

 

Santiman, by The Creole Choir of Cuba (Real World)

With this follow-up to their 2011 album Tande-La, the Creole Choir of Cuba continues to pay homage to the members’ Haitian ancestors through a legacy of freedom songs. On Santiman, you can hear the strong, unpretentious emotion in their voices, especially on “Boullando” — the song starts slowly and then climaxes in a swell of blending harmonies. “Juramento” and the bouncy “Pale Pale”, a Haitian protest song, also showcase the power of the choir’s voices over minimal instrumentation.

Just the Beginning, by Curtis Jordan

Trinidad and Tobago’s young gospel vocalist Curtis Jordan really holds his own on this six-track disc. With a soulful style often compared to that of international gospel superstar Smokie Norful, Jordan does not just sing gospel: he delivers it with the conviction of a true worshipper — as heard on “Grace”, featuring Jermaine Edwards, and his extremely popular 2009 hit “Trust Me”, both included on the disc. Currently a choir director at a church in Trinidad, twenty-three-year-old Jordan writes his own songs and has been performing live across the country since he was eighteen.

 

Singles roundup

Sellout, by Don Carlo$

Grenada-born, Toronto-based hip-hop artist Don Carlo$ adds his voice to the conspiracy theory of popular artistes selling out their souls to the devil to be successful, and using symbols of Basophet and the Eye of Providence — a.k.a. the All Seeing Eye — to convert their fans. The undisputed hip-hop freestyle champion of Grenada, Carlo$ spits out fast and furious lyrics over a laid-back hip-hop groove. Carlo$ is also known for his DJ skills and voice-overs, and has dabbled in soca as well. But his strength reigns in hip-hop. His full album is expected to drop soon.


Star Life
, by Alaine and Bugle

American-born Jamaican singer-songwriter Alaine and Jamaica’s own Bugle — a.k.a. Roy Thompson, hailing from Portland — are like a musical beauty and the beast on this easygoing dancehall love ballad: she with the soft and smooth vocals purring against his rude boy growl. Both artistes have had a lot of experience in the entertainment industry — Alaine as an actress and songwriter, and Bugle as a writer for Elephant Man — and it shows in their vocal prowess. A dancehall jam with an R&B edge, this listener-friendly single is on the Groupie Luv Riddim.


Hey Girl
, by Kupid, featuring Thomas Miller

Former Crossovah singer Kupid (David Richards) is charting a solo course, starting with this single, pairing him with Thomas Miller. The Antigua-born Kupid rides on familiar R&B beats on “Hey Girl”, but sets himself apart from the rest with the song’s reggae and soca nuances. Produced by BlacSand and written by Kupid, “Hey Girl” — already popular in Kupid’s new hometown of Orlando, Florida — will be featured on a mix tape the artist is expected to put out shortly.

 
Video pick


Tuesday on the Rocks
, by Kes the Band, directed by Shaun Escayg

Matching the vibe of the catchy island pop song, the “Tuesday on the Rocks” video finds Kes the Band frontman Kees Dieffenthaler on Charlotte Street in Port of Spain, getting his dreadlocks twisted. As a bootleg CD vendor turns up the volume on his huge speakers, a man breaks into a dance, while people on the street look on. The song, sung to an old-school rockaway reggae beat, is about the easygoing nature of Caribbean life. That the video was shot against the backdrop of real people going about their business on this busy city street, rather than on a closed set or at a remote location, adds to its earthy believability. Dieffenthaler looks totally comfortable riding past a Chinese restaurant on a bicycle, liming in a panyard while watching a game of cards, and then partying with friends on a yacht “rocking in stereo,” according to the tune’s catchy refrain.

Try not to miss the special effects — the city buildings move around like chess pieces on a board just before the scene changes to Kes down the islands. And watch for the sudden appearance of a house in the middle of the bush, as if the singer wished it into being.